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Back Wall - Period
In many previous articles I mention the No Back Wall philosophy. Many of you have asked me to explain this concept in more detail so here goes.
I often tell players simply “no back wall”. In short, this means that no ball you hit, passing shot, ceiling ball, cross court or even the round-the-world ball, should come off the back wall resulting in a setup for your opponent. But there is more to this strategy than just avoiding an easy setup.
In singles, the “no back wall” philosophy insures all passing shots (once past your opponent) are winners with no second chance of retrieval via a rebound off the back wall. Passing shots have a far less chance of skipping compared to other shot choices. By adjusting your game towards passing shots, you are also drastically cutting down on your unforced errors. In addition, you put enormous pressure on your opponent(s) when they realize that they must cut off each shot before it goes by them because there is no second chance. A hard hit passing shot is one of the hardest shots for an opponent to redirect accurately which also results in more easy setups for you.
A ceiling ball dropping down at 39 feet deep in the court (back wall is at 40 feet) moving away from the front wall is difficult to handle. A ceiling ball that comes off the back wall and moves toward the front wall is simple to handle and allows your opponent a fuller view of the court and your position. A ball moving toward the back wall may require a change in normal swing mechanics and this means a greater chance of error. There can also be a general feeling of being pinned against the back wall with good ceiling balls…and feeling anything negative while playing leads to poorer shots. I’ve never heard anyone feeling pinned with a ball bouncing off the back wall and I rarely see a player’s mechanics forced to change with a forward moving setup.
In doubles, if both you and your partner adhere to this mentality, you will feel a newly acquired trust with each other on the court. Neither of you will allow for a back wall setup to trap the other partner (or yourself) in an unwanted court position or allow the helpless feeling that repeated back wall setups produce.
Movement on the court is also much easier. After you hit your shot, you move to the best court position without the worry that a possible back wall setup (or a strange back wall bounce) will require you to relinquish that perfect position.
I know many of you have seen the Pros play. They hit off the back wall with their shots all the time. The best Pros have an amazing retrieval game. They can repeatedly compensate with their retrieval ability so many of them never acquired or needed to acquire this “no back wall” strategy to win. For us mere mortal players, its much easier to work on not setting your opponent up, than to learn to retrieve setups off the back wall like the Pros.
I saved the most important point for last…No back wall on any serve…Ever…PERIOD. Drive serves should be short or aces…bouncing twice before the back wall. Lob serves should never come off the back wall. Any serve in between you can think of should never come off the back wall. If you hit that overhand smash and think its an exception to this rule, you’ll never make it past the B level of play.
Committing to this play style will simplify the game of racquetball for you both physically and mentally. Go out there, concentrate and enjoy the game!!
Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com
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